Warning issued over super-strength ecstasy pills ahead of Glastonbury Festival

MDMA: The illegal drug is traditionally associated with parties and raves (Getty Images)
MDMA: The illegal drug is traditionally associated with parties and raves (Getty Images)

Festival-goers are being warned high-strength MDMA is in circulation in the UK drugs market ahead of Glastonbury festival.

The Loop - a non-profit which tests drugs in circulation in the UK - says recent tests show the strength of ecstasy pills have MDMA risen this year, back to pre-pandemic levels.

It warned this “could increase risk to ecstasy users”, with young people who came of age during Covid “particularly at risk”.

It warned the average strength of pills has risen to in excess of 180mg of MDMA.

It said the proportion of stronger pills has also increased to levels seen before the pandemic, warning that one in 10 contain 250mg plus.

Adam Waugh, training coordinator of The Loop, told the Guardian drug users may have grown used to lower-strength ecstasy that has until recently been in circulation, and may not expect the higher potency pills.

Crowds at Glastonbury could see some showers this weekend (PA Archive)
Crowds at Glastonbury could see some showers this weekend (PA Archive)

“The safest option is not to take pills. However, if someone is going to take them, it is safer to start with a quarter,” he told the newspaper.

“Wait at least 90 minutes before re-dosing, and do not assume that pills of a similar design have the same contents. Pills which look very similar can have different contents and be of differing strengths.”

MDMA, commonly known as MDMA, is a Class A drug.

Professor Fiona Measham, founder of The Loop, added to the Guardian: “It is younger and less experienced festival-goers who came of age during Covid and never experienced the super-strength pills of the 2010s who are particularly at risk.”

The Loop also said bigger pills are more likely to be stronger.

“As we move further into festival season, remember: no drug use is safe, but if taking MDMA consider the size of your pill and follow harm reduction advice,” it said in an earlier Facebook post.

The Loop is appearing at festivals including Parklife this year, testing inspects samples of confiscated or surrendered drugs, allowing on-site laboratories to send out public alerts to festival-goers in real time if extremely potent drugs are detected.

Advocates say this both protects the public and allows police to know when more dangerous drugs are circulating.

Glastonbury Festival is taking place at Worthy Farm in Somerset between Wednesday and Sunday.

British singer Dua Lipa, indie band Coldplay, and American singer SZA are headling, it was announced in March. Shania Twain will play the legends slot.

Also taking to the Pyramid Stage will be US rock band LCD Soundsystem, British rapper Little Simz, Nigerian singer Burna Boy, ’80s chart-topper Cyndi Lauper, and British soul star Olivia Dean.

US singer Janelle MonaeMercury Prize winner Michael Kiwanuka, British singer-songwriter Paul Heaton, UK rock band Keane, British singer Paloma Faith, and Nigerian singer Ayra Starr are also among those performing on the main stage.